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Ren Faire Memories: B.Michael Gets the Finger

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(For the past two decades of my life, I’ve participated, with varying levels of commitment, at both the Arizona and Southern/Northern California Renaissance Faires.  I’m going to start chronicling some of the stories here.  It’ll be sort of like Get in the Van, but lamer. Please note, the names have been changed to protect all parties.)

The last gig I had at the AZ Ren Faire was being a Morris dancer with an English folk dance team.  This was a good gig for me since I liked to drink and Morris dancers love drinking.  It was a match made in heaven.

One girl on the team — let’s call her Dana — did the entire team a favor by brewing up some grog every weekend. Grog was this potent mix of rum and fruit juices.  Sometimes it was nasty because she either put too much rum in or too much fruit juice.  The balance had to be just right, or else it would be too sugary or too rummy.  And I hate rum.  However, I also love free booze, so you can see my dilemma.

Dana's grog never looked this cool...

Anyway, one night we were sitting around camp and getting really wasted.  Like spinning room wasted. Like shitting in your cooler wasted. Like I’m about to fuck Andy Dick wasted.  As the night went on, one by one, the team members went to bed until it was just me, Dana, and some other dude who’s name I can’t remember, passing a jug of grog back and forth.

Dana and the dude started talking and I thought I saw a girl that I was interested in walking across the parking lot towards the Port a Johns by the showers.  Being a nice guy, I decided to take the jug of grog over to her and chat her up.

I don’t recall if the person I met was the person I wanted to meet, but that’s not important.  The important thing to know here is that I was standing a fair distance away from our camp, drinking Dana’s grog.  Me and this unknown person were passing the jug back and forth, shooting the shit as they say. I then hear a girl’s voice cut through the calm desert night.

“B.Michael!  YOU TOOK MY GROG!”  Hearing my name, I looked up and I saw nothing but a large white light coming at me from the camp.  The light was running towards me and kicking up dust as it went along.  I started laughing.  It was like the Tazmanian Devil from the Warner Brothers cartoon was coming at me with a very large flashlight. A Tazmanian Devil who was swearing and pissed off that I absconded with her alcohol.  It was a real funny sight.  Funny until the light went down on the hard desert floor.

Drunk people falling over isn’t uncommon anywhere, especially when they’re running over broken ground like the participant’s parking lot at the AZ Ren Faire.  Normally someone trips, swears and gets back up. Not this time.  Dana went down hard and didn’t get up for about 20 seconds or so.  Worse still, she wasn’t making any noise.  That’s what freaked me out the most.  No swearing, no yelling, no moaning.  And that desert floor is made up of hard, beat down dirt and rocks.  A concussion was not out of the question.

I dropped the grog jug and ran over to her.  She was just sitting up and when I got there and was in the beginning of a pretty good freak out.   I picked up her flashlight and then I saw why.

When she fell, she had jammed her finger into the dirt and rocks.  Her nail was bent back and broken, shredding the nail bed, and ripping the tender flesh below.  Blood was coming down her finger’s  mutilated tip and running onto her hand.  It was gruesome, to say the least.

Seeing what happened to her turned my drunken stomach.  I felt like I need to boot. Thankfully, I didn’t.

Instead, I picked up Dana and supported her weight as I walked her towards the Faire site where our friends Alice and Andrew’s trailer was located.

Alice and Andrew are legendary.  Both of them do night security at the California faires and are scary, paramilitary badasses. Like, they live on a compound paramilitary style and collect guns badasses.  To be fair, the level of idiocy at the CA Faires is pretty high, and so being security requires a certain amount of badassery. One story I heard, and I never confirmed it, was one night, after hours,  Andrew and/or Alice were responsible for throwing Wil Wheaton out of the CA Southern Faire when he was being an obnoxious underage drunk.   The story goes Wesley Crusher was pissed about getting thrown out and asked repeatedly if “[they knew] who I am!”

They did and it didn’t help.

Anyway, Dana and I knew them both personally because Alice danced with our team at the AZ Ren Faire.  Andrew did night security out at the AZ Faire, and thank God for that because there were a lot of nights out there I was a loud, drunken jackass, and had anyone else been doing Andrew’s job, I would’ve been kicked out.

As I was walking and supporting Dana, she was freaking out.  But not like in a normal kind of freaking out where someone is hysterical.  Dana was quiet, slurring her words, and very distressed about her finger. She was acting like Steve Carrell in the final bar scene of 40 Year Old Virgin  and Kate Hudson when she overdosed in Almost Famous. She tried to stop me from taking her to Alice and Andrew’s trailer, claiming that she was fine and we didn’t need to bother them.  I told her to cool it and that I was taking her to Alice and Andrew’s and that was final.  They’d know what to do.

“But they’ll be mad,” she said.

“Are you fucking kidding?  They live for shit like this.”

We arrive at the trailer and I knock on the door.  I don’t remember what I said, but I’m pretty sure I told them who I was and that Dana was hurt.  The door flew open and a topless Alice pulls Dana inside.  Andrew was in the back of the trailer, getting dressed.   Once he had his drawers on, he came into the narrow dining/lounge area of their trailer.

After Andrew arrived, it got serious.  It was like a scene out of ER or something. Alice and Andrew were all business, speaking in short sentences.  Almost barking at me.  They grabbed Dana and examined her.  She protested a bit, but as drunk as she was, her resistance was completely ineffectual.  Alice turned to me and asked (read: demanded) to know what happened.  Andrew was examining her finger as I told them the story.  Dana started moaning and then I saw her eyes roll back into her head, exorcist style.  Alice cut in front of me, shouting, “She’s going! She’s going!”  They pulled her back towards the bathroom in the trailer and I fell backwards on my ass onto a bench.

My head was spinning, so I got up and announced that I was going outside to get some air.  As I left, I heard Dana crying.  This was too much.

After five minutes, I came back inside.   Alice was supporting Dana and Andrew was standing in front of me.  There was a weird vibe inside the trailer, like I had fucked up and now Mom and Dad were there, pissed off and disappointed at me. He looked me in the eyes and told me to take Dana to the hospital.  “Now,” he said, sounding like how a prison guard talks to the newest inmate.

“Okay, we’ll get her to the hospital –”

“Tonight.”

“Sure, Andrew.  But I’m drunk off my ass right now. I can’t drive her anywhere.  So I’ll find someone who can drive.”

“Tonight,” he said.

“Tonight,” I repeated.

I took Dana out of the trailer and went back to camp.  I think she was a little calmer now, but she was still hurt and very drunk.  My memory is a little foggy here.

Once we made it back to camp, I knew who I had to wake up.  Let’s call him Jethro.

Jethro was our resident stand-up guy.  He’s a mixture between Owen Wilson and Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  He’s smart, responsible, and, best of all, he went to bed early so he was reasonably sober. I knew he could probably drive Dana to the emergency room.

I went over to our tent (we were tent mates at the time), and I crawled inside and shook him awake.  “Jethro.  C’mon man, wake up.  Dana’s hurt, you need to take her to the emergency room.”

Spitting Image...

He stirred a little, but wasn’t awake yet. “C’mon man, wake up. I’m too drunk to drive her.”  He slowly woke up and I explained what happened.  He finally got the message and woke up fully.

As he was putting on his shoes, he turned to me and said, “Are you coming?”

I snorted.  “Are you high? No.  I’m passing out.”  He kind of laughed and left the tent to drive Dana away.

I fell backwards onto the rat’s nest pile of padding and blankets that was my bed.   I then passed out.

The next morning (about six hours later) I found out the person I met at the Port a Johns ran off with the grog and spent the rest of the night wasted.  Dana’s finger was fixed  up (they had to take the nail off and clean out the wound) and I don’t think she danced that day.  Everyone was concerned about her and no one said anything about me being clear headed and calm in a crisis.  So really, who suffered the worst in this situation?

That’s right, Jethro. The poor bastard…

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Written by B. Michael Krol

May 12, 2011 at 10:42 am

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